From the time a couple announces that they are expecting until the end of time, one thing they can always count on is unsolicited parenting advice. While these people have good intentions parents are often bombarded with information, some of which they will heed and some of which they will ignore. There is a large number of parenting styles from which to choose from and particularly for first-time parents, the amount of information can often be overwhelming. Attachment Parenting is one style of parenting that is supported by science and which has found a niche in the Nashville community.
Attachment Parenting (AP) emphasizes the importance of creating a strong emotional bond, or secure attachment between parent and child. With a focus on responsiveness, empathy, and respect (to name a few things) a baby can learn to trust that their needs will be met and in a loving way. Many parents find that at least some of the guiding principles of attachment parenting come naturally to them, as much of this parenting style is a return to instinctual methods of caretaking. Ideas that often seem out of the norm in Western culture, such as keeping a baby close to the parent through continuous holding and babywearing, sleeping in close proximity to one another, and not allowing the baby to cry-it-out alone in a room with the idea that they will learn to self-soothe (which babies are incapable of doing, they depend on their parents to assist them in calming down once unsettled), are just some of what may be involved in attachment parenting.
The beauty of attachment parenting is not just in the fact that it creates a strong emotional bond between parent and child that lasts long in adulthood and has been scientifically proven to have numerous benefits to child and parent alike, but that anyone can practice it. Attachment Parenting International (API), a non-profit organization which created the 8 guiding principles of attachment parenting, encourages parents to utilize the principles in a way which fits for each family’s unique circumstances. So what attachment parenting looks like for a young family may look different from a divorced family, which may look different from an adoptive family, which may look different from a LGBT family, which may look different from your family; but they can all be utilizing attachment parenting and forming nurturing, healthy, and secure attachments with their child.
In Nashville, a community of attachment parents has formed. They support one another and do their part in spreading knowledge and love for this gentler style of parenting. API has a support group that meets once a month and is open to any parent who is interested in attachment parenting. There is a large babywearing community throughout Nashville, you may have seen them out and about at the zoo or Opry Mills with their babies wrapped up on their fronts and backs. And with the Nashville Breastfeeding Coalition’s “Breastfeeding Welcomed Here” initiative, more Nashville mothers are feeling comfortable stepping out into the public eye (covered or not) and changing cultural norms. Some of these parents are loud and proud of their attachment parenting ways while others may be doing what feels natural without even realizing that they are following some of AP’s principles.
While attachment parenting may seem out-of-the-norm, difficult, or like “coddling” to the uninformed individual, parents who take the time to become educated about the science behind AP will soon find that this style of parenting is not only a return to our instinctual parenting methods, but that it also has numerous life-long benefits for the parent, and most importantly, for the child. Nashville has been described as a city with a small-town feel, which makes it a great community in which to nurture a child’s growth. Parents in Nashville are open-minded and welcoming to a community where empathy, nurturing relationships, responsiveness to our children, and respect for one another takes precedence, and practicing Attachment Parenting with our children is a great way to foster that type of environment for our future generations.